Flynn Students Accept Rachel’s Challenge
Almost 20 years after Rachel Scott died at the Columbine High School shooting, her message of kindness and compassion lives on and was welcomed at John E. Flynn A Marzano Academy.
On Thursday, Sept. 20, students, teachers and families attended the kickoff of Rachel’s Challenge program, which is designed to make schools a more-tolerant and friendly learning environment. The Rachel’s Challenge program is a critical component of the Marzano Academy’s curriculum that focuses on a well-rounded education.
"Today is the start of a chain reaction of kindness and compassion," said Principal Brian Kosena to students and thier families during their school community launch.
"Kind is the new cool," he added in his message to students.
Rachel Scott was one of the first people killed during the Columbine High Schoool shooting on April 20, 1999. Always a kind person, it wasn’t until after her death that her family learned of the impact she had on her classmates. She was known for offering support to her peers, and was credited with standing up to bullies. The Scott family also found extensive writings by Rachel in which she wrote that she believed her purpose in life was to help build a better world and touch the lives of others.
The program is in use in school’s across the country, with an estimated 1.5 million people involved in Rachel’s Challenge. The program offers schools tailored presentations for both younger students and for older students and their families. The elementary, age-appropriate version does not talk about Rachel’s death, but offers an upbeat message using Rachel as an example of how a friendly student can make a difference.
The presentation made an impact on Flynn students, who were then asked to sign a banner to commit to doing their part to make their school a caring, tolerant place.
"I think it was really awesome and nice to see," said student Aleah Magaña.
"There are kids who need help," said student Jace Olson, who also shared that he has a friend with a brain injury that he makes a special point to look out for.
The community event in the evening provided a powerful overview of what happened at Columbine High School and Rachel’s life. The presentation called upon families to set the example for their children, to work to eliminate prejudice in their own lives, and to always look for the best in others.
Nate Rees, the Rachel's Challenge presenter at both events, said the intent of the program, whether to young students or high school students and their families, is ultimately the same.
"Our hope is that this becomes an everyday part of the school culture," expressed Rees.
Learn more about Rachel's Challenge and how to join the chain reaction of kindness online at rachelschallenge.org.